DNA Nanobots Meant to Eliminate Harmful Cells in the Body

In the near future, researchers hope to use tiny robots made up of DNA to destroy cancer cells, bacteria and other pathogens. These robots are small enough to flow easily through any and all veins and arteries due to their very small size. They also have amazing abilities because of their unique DNA origami structures. They are a fairly new technological advancement, introduced in 2006.

The "Background" shown is regular tissue. DNA Nanobots are seen here
latching onto the "target" tissue only.
They can administer chemotherapy 1000 times more powerful than any drug and without the harmful side effects. These nanobots specifically target only harmful cells, leaving the background untouched. Unlike conventional chemotherapy where all cells surrounding the affected area are destroyed, only cells meant to be destroyed are eliminated. Although they are not only meant to be used for cancerous cells, this may be the most important application as cancer takes approximately 560,000 lives a year and the side-effects of chemotherapy are very hard to recover from. Because these nanobots are made up of DNA, they are extremely bio-compatible and can act as our body’s own original white blood cells. Their ability to go undetected by our body’s natural defense mechanisms allows them to cause no harmful immune system response.

Nanobots Function through Unique DNA Origami

Different structures that can be achieved through DNA Origami
Researches have composed an entire article about the unique and versatile DNA Origami shapes. These nanobots can be programmed to form any desired structure. The one that will most likely be used for drug deliverance is the hexagonal shape not pictured in the graphic, labeled as structure (e).

This structure works by allowing the drug, antibody or cargo to be delivered to a specific cell and remain unexposed to the outer environment. Once the nanobot comes into contact with the specific harmful cell, it will “unlock” and expose the cargo to the cell. Although not yet tested in humans, these nanobots have been tested in smaller organisms, such as cockroaches.

Success Proven Through Testing in Cockroaches

Around a year ago these bots were tested in cockroaches. The researchers responsible for this study used DNA’s unique two stranded structure in order to administer the drugs. For this study, DNA Origami was used and the DNA bots were made to carry certain drugs. When the bots come in contact with a protein, the double helix structure unravels. If the DNA was carrying a certain molecule that was meant to destroy a cancerous cell for example, when the DNA came into contact with that cell, it would unravel, releasing the cancer killing molecule with it thus destroying the cancerous cell. The bots were labeled with fluorescence to track them. The results of the experiment proved the accuracy of these bots for finding and destroying a molecule that meant to harm the cockroaches. Researchers are hoping to implement these nanobots into humans in the near future.

Preliminary Trials to Start on Humans Soon

Although nanobot technology is fairly new, it has technologically advanced in a multitude of ways. They are so small that they can be introduced into the human bloodstream through a syringe, just like a normal shot. They could be implemented at normal check-ups to scout for abnormal cells and destroy them before they spread to other areas of the body.

No comments: